Mitzi Peroine’s Braid is at once a warped candy-coloured nightmare and acid-flavoured Sofia Coppola and Haneke confection, combined with body horror and blood by way of the clinical luxury of Chan-Wook Park’s Stoker and Haneke’s Funny Games.
Friends Petula (Imogen Waterhouse) and Tilda (Sarah Hay) are downtown girls, reaping their rewards from a nefarious drug scheme, looking the picture of sleaze, surrounded by plastic baggies. Suddenly, the cops are at the door. Torpedoed from their Rumble Fish existence - all black and white low-angled camera work, evoking the same dissociative feel - to one of constricted femininity and psychotic roleplay, they are forced to attempt to acquire money from their childhood friend Daphne (an excellently wild-eyed Madeline Brewer).
Part of this scheme involves adhering to three rules, which are blasted at you in neon font, Gaspar Noé style, and marked in embroidery on the wall with a nodding wink: “Everyone must play. No outsiders allowed. Nobody leaves”.
The mystery of this game is just as alluring as the secrets that all three girls seem to be hiding - how they know one another, and why Daphne is willing to exchange her safe full of cash for a twisted make-believe that involves smashing in one’s kneecaps with a hammer. Flashbacks provide a sense of foreshadowing, showing the trio as young girls playing a game that, in typical fashion, goes wrong.
Their pasts seem to catch up with them, with Detective Siegel on the trail of Petula and Tilda for their drug possession - the same detective that met the girls when they were young, becoming instantly suspicious when he hears screams coming from Daphne’s mansion.
Braid excels in its visuals with pops of colour assaulting your eyeballs, and seduces the viewer with a deceptively feminine type of glamour, but it also works as a satire of the constrictions of familial roles: the father figure / “Doctor”, who feels smothered and wants to escape the “family”; the housebound mother, and the bratty daughter. One arresting scene shows the Doctor shaving his face along to opera music, something that would not look out of place in a Yorgos Lanthimos film.
The drug-induced visuals leave you feeling as disorientated as Tilda and Petula, with jump scares jolting you out of a hallucinogenic haze and leaving you constantly wondering who the victim or villain really is in this cat and mouse game. The film gleefully relishes in having nothing appear as it seems, and each twist feeling like a different film. To some, this narrative may seem messy, but it only emphasises the sensory overload and confusion the characters experience as twists galore occur.
A nightmare in magenta and lavender, as the three girls sit draped in lace, eating gummy worms like the three Heathers from Heathers in the afterlife, what is left is a gorgeously vibrant and yet shockingly violent bourgeois horror-comedy that relishes in its three female leads, proving that femininity can be deadly.
BRAID / DIRECTOR: MITZI PEIRONE / SCREENPLAY: MITZI PEIRONE / STARRING: MADELINE BREWER, SCOTT COHEN, SARAH HEY / CERT: TBC / RELEASE DATE: TBC